Peppermint oil is one of the oldest essential oils dating as far back as 1,000 B.C. History shows that ancient Japanese and Chinese folk medicine account its use. Peppermint has also been used by ancient Rome for at least 200 years, it has been found in many Egyptian pyramids; and Europeans have been using this herb for medicinal purposes for a long time. Various cultures use peppermint oil to symbolize hospitality as well.
So what is peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant which is an amalgamation of the spearmint and water mint species (Mentha aquatica). The most active ingredients of this essential oil are menthone (10–30%) and menthol (35–45%) which attributes to the cool, tingling sensation created by this oil when used topically.
Uses and Benefits of Peppermint Oil
Because of its therapeutic benefits, peppermint oil has been a popular medicine whether in oil or capsule form. It has also been widely used in aromatherapy which, studies show, effectively relieves nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, and muscle pain as well as improve memory.
Let us take a look at some of its benefits and uses.
- Muscle pain relief – After a long tiring day of work and/or workout, peppermint oil when applied to the head, neck, and muscle areas relieves any soreness or pain. It is a very effective muscle relaxant as well as a natural painkiller. Check out this recipe on how to prepare a homemade muscle rub to help soothe an aching back or sore muscle.
- Sinus care – Peppermint can also act as a potent expectorant to relieve a cough and decongestant to relieve colds. When diffused peppermint oil is inhaled, it can unclog sinuses and relieve scratchy throat effectively in no time. Peppermint can also work against asthma and bronchitis.
- Joint therapy – Pure peppermint oil mixed with lavender oil applied on aching joints can provide immediate relief. The cooling sensation created is likened to an ice bath, but one that keeps the muscle warm and dry. Go figure!
- Reduced hunger cravings – Applying a couple of drops on your temples or chest, or taking a couple of deep breaths from a bottle of peppermint oil can help you feel fuller faster.
- Natural energizer – Peppermint oil can be a healthy alternative to energy drinks. Inhaling the oil a few times can boost your energy. It can also help those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome to gain more focus and concentration.
- Shampoo revitalizer – Because of the antiseptic attribute of peppermint oil, adding 2–3 drops of it into your shampoo can effectively remove dandruff and lice. It can also stimulate the scalp thereby energizing your mind and waking you up during your early morning bath.
- Allergy relief – When peppermint is diffused with clove oil and eucalyptus, it can be a powerful remedy to reduce allergy symptoms. Peppermint oil is very effective as a muscle relaxant, including the muscles in the nasal passages, causing it to help clear out any pollen that may cause allergies especially during the allergy season.
- ADHD support – Peppermint oil can help increase concentration and focus. This can be applied sublingually, sprayed on the shirt, or placed in small amounts under the nose before study time.
- Anti-itch – The cooling effect that comes from mixing peppermint oil with lavender oil will help soothe any itch and rashes and remove the harmful effects of poison ivy.
- Fever reducer – A healthy alternative to aspirin or paracetamol as a relief for fever is a mixture of peppermint oil and coconut oil. Simply rub it on the neck and soles of the feet. The cooling effects of the mixture will stabilize the body temperature.
- Natural bug repellent – Peppermint oil is a safe alternative to chemical-based bug repellents for ticks, ants, mice, cockroaches, spiders, mosquitoes, and even lice.
- Skin health – Mixing peppermint oil into lip balm and body lotion can nourish the lips and skin. Peppermint oil when mixed with lavender oil can prevent eczema and psoriasis.
- Acne Treatment – Studies show that peppermint oil is a powerful facial treatment for acne because of its antimicrobial properties and because it can naturally aid in oil secretion in the skin.
- Headache cure –Because of its ability to improve blood circulation, dabbing a few drops on your wrists and taking in its aroma can relieve a headache in itself or a headache that is induced by other body aches and pains.
- Hair Growth – Peppermint oil can contribute to hair growth and improve frizzy hair. In fact, a number of superior quality hair products are using peppermint oil already.
- Sunburn relief – This essential oil can not only aid in the oil secretion of the skin, but it can also hydrate the skin. Mix peppermint oil with coconut oil and apply it directly to the sunburned area for quick relief.
- Stomach problem treatment – Taking a capsule of peppermint can help relieve irritable bowel syndrome. It is also a safe and effective alternative to medications for relief of stomach problems such as upset stomach, bloating and indigestion as well as for reducing colonic spasms and abdominal pain due to gas.
- Dental Health – Peppermint oil is a natural breath freshener, far better than the chemical-based mouth washes available today. It is also a toothpaste that can remove cavities better.
- Reduce nausea – Medical studies show that peppermint oil can reduce nausea induced by chemotherapy better than medical treatments. Its application can be topical (dabbing 1–2 drops behind the ear), oral (adding a drop of peppermint oil to water), or diffusion. It can also help treat hot flashes that women receive while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
- Respiratory benefits – Aside from being a potent expectorant and decongestant, this essential oil can provide health benefits to people suffering tuberculosis (TB). Studies show that when inhaled, peppermint oil can help decrease the inflammation induced by TB and prevent the condition from getting any worse or from recurring once cured.
- Colic – Peppermint oil is a safe option to use instead of medicines to treat infantile colic because it is just as effective but without the side effects.
- Teething remedy – It is also a very safe remedy to help ease the pain of teething infants. Just rub a mixture of peppermint and coconut oil on the gum area.
- Balance hormones and relieve symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Cancer treatment – There has been research indicating that the compound menthol found in peppermint inhibits the growth of prostate cancer.
- Treatment for herpes infections – Studies show that peppermint is beneficial to patients struck by the herpes simplex virus. When applied topically, peppermint oil can pass through the skin because of its lipophilic nature. This makes the essential oil an ideal treatment option for the treatment of herpes infection, including pain caused by shingles rashes.
There are many other uses and benefits of peppermint oil; however, it must be used with care and in small amounts. It is recommended that a healthcare professional is consulted before using this essential oil, especially for pregnant and nursing women, infants and children under seven years of age, diabetics, as well as individuals with GERD and hiatal hernia, gallbladder problems, and those taking antacids.